The Gallagher Brothers’ smash debut captures the early ‘90s shift in pop power, from American grunge to a modern Britpop street-swagger.
Yes, yes, Oasis standards such as “Wonderwall" and “Champagne Supernova” are timeless -- but try to forget them for a moment. Going further back, is there a more quintessential Oasis song than “Cigarettes and Alcohol,” the shambolic rocker from the band’s 1994 debut, Definitely Maybe? Definitely not. It’s effectively the anthem for the return of British music -- the knock ’em, sock ‘em rise of Britpop -- following grunge’s reign over the charts in the early ‘90s. And Noel and Liam Gallagher are Manchester-bred lads, football fans from the rafters, the type involved in punch-ups at the fish & chipper after the match. Lots of cigarettes and alcohol there. This is the DNA of their whole being and that of their original fanbase.
"Is it my imagination / Or have I finally found something worth living for?” Liam sings. “I was looking for some action / But all I found was cigarettes and alcohol." It's basically their “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
When Definitely Maybe dropped Aug. 29, 1994, it became the fastest-selling debut album in the U.K., ever (at the time). Just think of all the other mega-selling artists who came before them, from the Beatles and Rolling Stones to Queen, Rod Stewart and Elton John. Yet it was these two blokes, their guitarist buddy (literally nicknamed Bonehead) and the anthems they penned in their mum’s frontroom that took that incredible title. The album went on to be certified 7× Platinum in the U.K and moved 847,000 units in the U.S. to date, per Nielsen Music.